By T. Dietz
Ed Ricketts, the marine biologist that collaborated with John Steinbeck on “The Log from the Sea of Cortez “ (1951) is forever etched in the minds of Steinbeck’s fans, as the basis (by Steinbeck) for ‘Doc’ in several of his classic novels. Brian and I have written before about our admiration for Steinbeck’s compelling stories and the museum in his honor.
In the 1930’s and ‘40s, Ricketts was a community centerpiece in Monterey, CA. Its been written about extensively how Ricketts and his lab regularly drew in, often for days on end, a diverse range of characters from scientists, philosophers, writers, artists and musicians to the local societal periphery. So of course it was a “must see” destination during our initial explorations of Steinbeck and Cannery Row. So it was a happy surprise to find a new reference to Ricketts, right in downtown San Francisco.
In 2014, a new San Francisco restaurant and basement performance venue opened in the remains of the famous comedy/musical performance venue, The Purple Onion. The restaurant honored Ed Ricketts and his inspiration for the arts, sciences, philosophy and community by taking the name “Doc Ricketts” and the cave-like basement performance venue took the name Doc’s Lab.
I had been looking forward to hearing the Electric Squeeze Box Orchestra, an impressive up beat jazz group and was dumbfounded to find out they played weekly at Doc’s Lab – a venue I hadn’t heard about. The subterranean space is perfect for performing and listening and has a great and well stocked bar. All it needed was Ed Ricketts and Steinbeck around to drink, story tell, and philosophize.